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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Digital Citizens: The podcaster
By Darren Waters
BBC News entertainment reporter

Richard Vobes
Richard Vobes hosts a daily podcast

All this week the BBC News website is speaking to people whose creativity has been transformed in the digital age.

From blogging to podcasting, millions of ordinary people are becoming writers, journalists, broadcasters and film-makers thanks to increasingly affordable and accessible tools.

"At the moment it is a bit geeky. I measure that by if my mum and dad could do it."

Richard Vobes is talking about podcasting. He is not alone - lots of people are talking about podcasting.

It took about show 12 until I realised anyone was listening
Richard Vobes

Mr Vobes hosts a daily 30-minute radio programme which he records in his home in Worthing, on the south coast of England, with his 12-year-old daughter Georgie.

The show is available for download from the internet and thanks to podcasting, it can be transferred to any portable MP3 player for listening on the go.

Podcast is being tipped by many as the next big thing in radio. Apple has released a version of its iTunes software that lets people search and find podcasts, while the BBC and US broadcasters ABC and CBS are also embracing podcasting.

Contrary to popular belief not all podcasts are amateur, in fact the BBC have several podcasts, as do other professional broadcasters. However, the most interesting (and uncensored) podcasts are the indie ones
Phil, Newcastle, UK

Apple boss Steve Jobs calls podcasting "the hottest thing going in radio right now".

"The potential for podcasting is huge," says Mr Vobes, whose day job is a mix of after-dinner speaking, corporate events, circus skills training and performing.

"Once you have listened to your set of music on your MP3 player you do get bored and you crave something new."

Professional podcasts

There are now thousands of different podcasts - from gardening programmes, film and TV review programmes, shows about motherhood, wine, religion and technology - with the overwhelming majority of them made by ordinary people in their own homes.

PODCAST - a radio programme-style show which can be downloaded from the internet and transferred to an MP3 player

The quality of the programmes vary - most are very unpolished efforts. But the Richard Vobes Radio Show is one of the more professional podcasts.

"It's a magazine show - a mixed bag.

"I do put on a bit of a radio persona and people say I am a cross between Steve Wright and James Whale. I do silly, bizarre, buffoon-y stuff with mini Radio 4 documentary style slots.

"I do try and keep a high standard. I am the boss so if I'm tired and it's below par I can only blame myself."

The show, which started in January, mixes comment, comedy and on-location interviews.

In the next few weeks Mr Vobes plans to podcast from inside a tank, while in a microlite, rock climbing and while parachuting.


He says: "We recently sung with a barbershop choir, poked about in an apiary and meet the bee keepers, went ghost hunting at RAF Tangmere Airfield - the list goes on."

'Bounce off'

Unusually, Mr Vobes records his show with his daughter, Georgie.

"I was going to do it all on my own and didn't really think that it was going to work with Georgie on board.

"I was prepping up for the show and she asked if she could be involved. She really got into it and gave me somebody to bounce off.

"She was quite monotone at first, saying yes or no. But now she is really confident."

Mr Vobes says he was close to quitting the programme when, after the first few shows, he did not know if anyone was listening.

"Doing it on your own is hard as there is no response from the audience. It took about show 12 until I realised anyone was listening.

"I was a bit concerned as I was having no e-mails from listeners and I was following all the recommendations the podcasts directories have to promote the show.


"There were a few hits on the website but I could not tell if anyone was listening to anything.

Richard Vobes and Georgie
The show is co-presented by Mr Vobes' daughter Georgie

"Then I discovered I had a problem with my e-mails. Suddenly the fault had cleared up and the e-mail was piling in."

The show now has about 500 listeners a day and Mr Vobes now has hopes of turning the programme into a potential money maker.

"Once you start getting feedback, you start getting a buzz. The fact I can entertain through the internet just as musicians now can is very rewarding and gratifying.

"I am dipping my toe, looking at the financial aspect, seeing if it will make money.

"I saw this as a way of promoting myself. Hopefully at some point, earning a living from it. It's like running your own radio station."

On Wednesday the BBC News website speaks to a controversial blogger.

Richard Vobes explains how he puts his radio show together

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